Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams

Jeffrey Williams 

Professor of History
PhD, University of Edinburgh, 1972

Email: williamsj@nku.edu
Office: Landrum 440
Phone: (859) 572-5834

I've been a professor of history at NKU since 1972 and served as Department Chair of  History & Geography from 2001 to 2009.  I came to Northern Kentucky after two years as a history instructor at Ohio State University.

I was awarded the Ph.D. in history from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where I had completed a dissertation on 19th century Scottish political history. Prior to that, I had spent my junior year at Edinburgh, but my undergraduate degree is from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966. I spent most of my childhood in California, with intervals living and going to school in England and New York City. I have now spent most of my adult life in the Ohio Valley where I have reared two sons and put down roots. 

At NKU, I have enjoyed teaching a wide variety of history classes with the only common denominator being their focus on the history of the last 200 years. I see myself as an historian of the modern era -- meaning history since the Industrial Revolution transformed almost everything in society. I am fascinated by how this transformation occurred in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa. I am particularly interested in how this process we call modernization has profoundly altered the role of women and the function of the family, so I teach courses in women's and family history. And I am interested in particular times and places where the impact of modernization has been most dramatic, which is why I teach courses on modern Russian history, World War I, Vietnam War, the 1960s and the Third World since 1945.

Since completing my dissertation, I have done research on World War I and women's history, but my chief research project at the moment is completing a manuscript tentatively titled Walking Tours Through London's History, a kind of unique guidebook which includes narrative chapters for each era of London's history coupled with detailed walking tours of sections of the city that best illustrate the aspects of that era's history. I have accumulated the knowledge on which this is based by studying and teaching in London at intervals over the past decades.

Since I spent such a formative period of my life as a student in the British Isles and benefitted enormously from my junior year abroad in Scotland, I am an enthusiastic proponent of overseas travel/study programs. I began leading students to Britain in 1981. Since 1982, I have been a board member and frequent teacher in the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA), a consortium of colleges and universities that sponsors short-term and long-term academic programs in various English-speaking countries. I have taught the History of London in the CCSA London Summer program on nine different occasions and served as a director of various CCSA programs in London, Britain, Ireland and Australia.

My hobbies include travel (obviously!), but I also take recreational pleasure in cooking and gardening. My family is scattered around the U.S., and my grown sons have exciting lives in faraway places -- one works out of Washington D.C. as a consultant on containing the risks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons while the other is based in Stockholm, Sweden from which he works with agencies of the U.N. as a legal consultant on the resolution of post-civil conflict property restitution issues. Partly to keep up on news that might affect my sons' well-being, I am a current events junkie who struggles to cope with the flow of information coming at me through National Public Radio,  newspapers and magazines to which I subscribe, and the internet sites that cram my bookmarks list.

Days are never long enough to do justice to all my interests and responsibilities, but I have never doubted that the academic life was what I'm best suited for, and I continue to enjoy teaching, interacting with students, and being part of a vibrant academic community as much as on the first day I walked into the job at NKU.

Look HERE for information about our Spring Break trip to France.